Coach Deion Sanders proud of Colorado Buffaloes running back Anthony Hankerson for “more than just football”

Coach Deion Sanders proud of Colorado Buffaloes running back Anthony Hankerson for “more than just football”

For many players on last year’s Colorado Buffaloes roster, deciding in the offseason whether to stay with the program or enter the transfer portal was a hard decision. Not so for sophomore running back Anthony Hankerson.

“Why I decided to stay is (Deion Sanders) coming and everybody likes Coach Prime, you know, and his success or what he had before he came here at Jackson State,” Hankerson said on this week’s Coach Prime’s Playbook with Romi Bean (airs on CBS Colorado at 6:30 p.m. Thursday). “Competition and work, he got it all. He’s been there, he’s done that. And just to have a coach that’s been in your shoes and been to the level you’re trying to go to … who wouldn’t want to be coached by that guy?”

Coach Deion Sanders with running back Anthony Hankerson on this week’s “Coach Prime’s Playbook with Romi Bean.”CBS

Sanders says he’s proud of Hankerson for several reasons, not just because “he fought through the fire and the smoke, and he’s balling out.” Hankerson has had 38 rushes for 156 yards so far this season, which is the second highest total on the team.

Sanders said Hankerson never backed down from his goal of getting playing time this year, despite the fact that the running backs room is pretty full.

“The only thing he ever wants (is) ‘Give me the chance. Don’t just throw me to the curb because I was here and we lost a lot. Just give me the chance.’ And slowly but surely … he’s the guy.”

Colorado Buffaloes running back Anthony Hankerson rushes the ball up at Folsom Field on Saturday.RJ SANGOSTI/MEDIANEWS GROUP/THE DENVER POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

“When we want it, we go to him and he gets it done. And I’m proud of him for his resilience.”

Sanders says one of Hankerson’s best attributes is his desire to be a good blocker as well as ball carrier.

“The thing that he hates? … if he misses a block he’s hot, he’s truly upset because he wants to be a total back.”

Hankerson knows that’s the attitude he must take if he’s going to make it to the NFL.

Sanders has invited several NFL legends to the sidelines of Folsom Field in Boulder this season, and among those is Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Irvin went to the same Florida high school as Hankerson, and the two recently posed for a photo together in the locker room.

“He just tell me to stay focused. He knows the standard that we all have for ourselves going to St. Thomas Aquinas,” Hankerson said. “Coming out of that high school there’s high expectations.”

St. Thomas Aquinas High School posted this photo on Facebook on Saturday with the caption “St. Thomas Aquinas Football Greats Tony Sands, Anthony Hankerson and Michael Irvin at Today’s Univ. Of Colorado Football Game!”ST. THOMAS AQUINAS RAIDERS FOOTBALL

“He was telling me to keep it going, don’t get down, adversity’s going to strike and really just stay on target.”

Sanders and Hankerson then shared an emotional moment on the CBS Colorado show where Hankerson talked about his difficult upbringing; his father was incarcerated for 10 years and is no longer alive. His mother had to raise him and his two sisters, and he “had to be the man of the house early.”

“People don’t understand these stories. But, like, these stories, when you hear it on the television, you say ‘Man, that’s extraordinary.’ But where we come from it’s ordinary,” said Sanders, who also grew up in Florida and faced some tough times growing up.

Sanders then described how he and his coaching staff look out for players like Hankerson to make sure they’re staying positive.

“That’s why everybody in the neighborhood gotta pitch in and we gotta hold him down and make sure he’s straight. On all fronts — not just the football,” Sanders said.

“When he (was down) and had that look in his eye, it was like ‘You alright? You alright? You’re good, we’re going to get it back to you.’ You’ve got to really have constant communication of some sort to let him know he’s good because he’s trying to hold it down not just for mama but the sisters and the whole neighborhood. The family is on his back.”

Hankerson is hoping for a big game this weekend against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Buffaloes (3-2) face ASU (1-4) late Saturday afternoon in Tempe.

 

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